Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Marketing Essay - Comparison between Service Brand and Product Brand

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Introduction
The current era is considered the age of competition and the branding is one of the most convenient ways to establish a positive image in the mind of the consumers. However, it is rather difficult task to formulate an image without pondering upon each element that is indulged in the promulgation of some brand. Nevertheless, the brand can be promulgated if proper strategy is applied after selecting the best brand type.

This paper throws light upon the significance of brand and two types of brands. The first section is the clear cut mouthpiece of what the brand actually is and what the benefits of using this term. Furthermore, this section also throws light upon two types of brand, ie service brand and product brand. The essential features of both these types are promulgated keeping the definition of different scholars under consideration.

However, the main purpose of this paper is to present a comparison of the product brand and service brand. Both these types of brands have their own significance but a brand gets familiarity by passing through different stages, encountering several elements. The second section focuses on all those elements that contribute in the success of some product or service. The deep down comparison of both these types of brands is also presented side by side as well. However, different recommendations are also given to cope with the challenges aroused by the current competitive age for these two fields.

1. What is brand?

Before throwing light upon the product branding and service branding and making a comparison between both of them, it is essential to know what the brand actually is because the comprehensive definition of brand will aid to understand the entire concept.

Kotler et al (p.549,2005) gave a vivid description what the brand actually is. According to him, a brand is regarded as the combination of name, sign, symbol, or set of names that dissimilate some specific service or product from each other. Kapferer (2004) indicated that a brand is the source to drive consumer behavior and has capability to form decisions of consumers as well. A specific brand represents almost all the qualities and traits a specific product possesses. It has power of differentiating a product or service from each other and cause reliability from the part of consumer as well. In simple words, a brand is term, symbol, name, design, sign or a specific combination that is formulated to identify a specific service of good by the consumer due to its uniqueness.

1.1. Elements of Brand:

Either the brand is categorized as service brand or product brand, in each case; there are four elements that cause the fundamental recognition of the product. these four elements involve brand named that indicate a word that cause recognition of some product, trade name that indicate recognition through organization’s name, brand mark that indicates the logo of some brand and trade mark that indicates the symbol of the brand. In each case, the brand causes financial and social benefits not only to organization but also to consumers as well. Brands not only guarantee the quality, but also the expression of emotions as well as sophistication at the same time. The example of famous brands is best in this regard. There are many famous brands that are even working today for satisfying the consumers with their services like Rolex that indicates sex and success and Kodak that guarantees great picture quality.

1.2. Benefits Of Branding:

As far as the benefits of branding are concerned, not only consumers and manufacturers get certain advantages from the familiarity of the brand, but the retailers also get benefits as well. As far as the consumer benefit is concerned, the customer easily identifies the brand quality through its name or logo, evaluate the product features, rely on the brand quality that cause less risk and so on. As far as the manufacturer is concerned, branding builds loyalty towards customers, formulates a strong position in the market among competitors, differentiates the products that cause unique identification of the product, and power over the retailers also augments. The retailers get benefits because of the position of a specific product in the market and by attracting customers as well.

The financial benefits of the branding can be assessed through the saying of
John Stuart, “If this business were split up, I would give you the land and bricks and motors, and I would take the brands and trade marks and I would fare better than you.”(Clifton&Ahmad, pp.26, 2009). The financial value of branding, especially service brand was ambiguous from past decades. However, now the tangible and intangible sources are gathered to achieve financial benefits from the brand usage.

Brands have their social significance as well. For the complete social life, the wealth plays a vital role and this wealth can be gathered with the help of brand investment. Good consumer value means good investment, that further invites employment and selling of the goods, which ultimately benefices in the form of wealth and excellent living standards as well.

1.3. Significance Of Adopting Proper Branding Strategy:

However, the history is evident that without a proper branding strategy, none of the great brands have achieved the highest position till now. The example of Coca-Cola and Rolex is best one in this regard as they were established years ago. The Coca-Cola brand was established hundred years ago and achieved this familiarity with the passage of time. A brand, either it is service brand or product brand, takes time to achieve familiarity in the market and that’s why, almost all top brands which have significant position in the market are years old.

After throwing light upon branding and its significance, benefits and value of adopting proper strategy, now the light will be thrown upon two major types of brands, one is product brand and other is service brand.

2. Service Brand:

Before making a thorough comparison between both product and service branding, it is essential to define the meaning of service branding and its significance for complete understanding. The service is called the activities which benefice both indulged parties by the service provider who results in advantages without ownership. It is certainly intangible and always tied with the provision of some tangible product as well. A service brand is a kind of service that makes itself loyal and reliable through its service for the people. “A service brand communicates a commitment to provide a certain kind of experience for customers.”(Glynn, pp203, 2009). Most of the consumers rely upon the brands of the service but it is rather very difficult to build this kind of position in the market.

2.1. Features Of Service Brand:

There are certain features of this kind of services that makes it unique and exceptional.
Actually the brand service is not itself a tangible object but it’s a matter of performance ie renting a car, providing a platform for shopping and many more. EBay and Amazon are two most authentic examples in this regard on which, while shopping, the individual gets satisfied only because these are branded services. Second thing is that it is totally intangible which means services cannot be tasted, rotten, burn or break but the matter of fact is that without a tangible product, service branding is not possible. Only through using physical objects offered by the service branding company, the customer becomes able to comprehend the significance of the services.

It cannot be said that the standard of the service would be same because each time, the service is performed by different people even if they are working in the same firm. Sometimes the performance also differs due to day routine as well. The services also differ when different consumers demand different things and the employer become unable to fulfill the criteria.

Another exceptional feature of the brand service is that it is assessed through regular updates and through giving proper training; the staff is made able to satisfy the consumers. The staff is collaborated to gain experience and learning.

In such kind of services, the consumers are directly involved in services like in launderette and staff cooperation like in hair salon. The timely informing to the customers regarding the service provision also affects the overall consequence as well.

The consumers are not only provided direct contact with the staff, but sometimes the consumers-to-consumer contact is also brought into existence. Similarly, the services cannot be stored or restored as well. For instance, if the individual provide the services of cleaning in some house, the hour he will spend in providing service cannot be restored. There is certain time that is suggested to provide services and consumers have to act according to the timing of services. Sometimes, the individuals have to wait for long time if they want to use the service of some brand.

2.2. Role Of Employers In Success Of Service Brand:

The employers play a major role in the success of some service brands. Suppose, if the staff of the hair saloon is not capable enough to satisfy the consumer, the result will appear in the form of dissatisfaction on the part of the customer that further led him to use the service of some other saloon. Similarly, if the staff working in some organization is not cooperative, the services will receive its bad effects. Moreover, the timely provision of the service and adopting proper strategy to cope with sudden rush of the consumers also cause negative consequences for the service provider. In other words, through providing reliable, responsible, trustful, and exceptional services, the employers can augment the level of the brand in no time.

2.2. Role Of Consumer In Success Of Service Brand:

The consumers play a major role in the success of some specific services. Sometimes, it becomes really difficult to satisfy the needs of some consumer, especially in current era when the brand services are provided worldwide through IT sources. It has become really complicated to comprehend the needs of the consumers demanding services worldwide. So, if the customers are satisfies, the reliability level augments.

2.4. Challenges Service Branding Is Facing:

There are certain challenges this service brand has to face, especially in the case of global service provision. Sometimes, the communication conflict arises between the service provider company and the consumers having services of that respective brand. Similarly, the rules that are utilized to promulgate are also applied to service brands as well which becomes really difficult to manage sometime because of its being intangible by nature. Nowadays, there are many exceptional brand services that are serving consumers worldwide. So, it has become really difficult for the consumer to select the best among them. This competitive ratio is the top most challenge which the brand service companies are facing throughout the world.

3. Product Brand:

For a complete comparison, it is equally essential to keep in view what the product branding actually is. The product branding is the second type of brand which has diversity in it because the entire branding process depends upon the specific product that is being sold using some service. Basically a specific good or product manufactured by a company is promulgated using its logo, name or specific sign. The sign ensures that the product is of high quality and this assurance is generated by the past reputation of that respective company. Through the product brand position in the market, “People make decisions about which products to buy after considering both tangible and intangible attributes of a product.”(Daniel&Gitman, pp.302, 2008).

Many famous products like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Rolex, Gucci, Armani and similar like these brands are the examples of product brand. Through providing physical goods amalgamating it with provision of sophisticated services, the brand can be made exceptional among the other competitors.

3.1. Features Of Product Branding:

Just like service branding, the product branding has its own significance as well. There are lots of features this category possesses. First of all, unlike the service brand, product brand is tangible as well as perishable. It has its physical entity and the individual can use and restore it easily. For instance, if the individual is using the branded product of Gucci, he can replace it easily with any other good.

The contribution of manufacturers, retailers and even customers can be seen in the promulgation of the product brand. Especially, the service providers play an exceptional role in promulgating some specific product. It takes long time to make a product famous and the example of Coca-Cola is the best one in this regard as it took more than 100 years to become a strong brand and there is contribution of all these three forces (ie consumer, retailer and manufacturer) in its success.

A high quality product is of no worth unless proper marketing is not applied to make it a brand. Suppose if the product is manufactured using good quality ingredients but it has no branded name, people will not trust on its authenticity only because it would have no proper marketing. Marketing makes an image of some specific product brand in the mind of the people and that’s why, people always prefer to utilize branded products instead of common one.

Unlike service brand, the product brand is perishable. It means once the product is rotten, broken or burn, it cannot be restored. Only a new product can be the replacement of the existing product. Moreover, due to the reliability of the consumer over the product brand, the product brand most often succeeds in fulfilling the expectations of the consumers as well.

3.2. Role Of Manufacturers In Success Of Product Brand:

The manufacturing of the product plays an inseparable role in the success of some product, the brand is the name of quality and the consumer demands more than a product. A brand product must be the symbol to express the emotions of the consumers. As far as the manufacturing of the product is concerned, the use of good material in the product making augments the reliability level of the consumer over the product. Moreover, the product is also an expression of feelings such as Hewlett Packard is the name of reliability and trust. So, the manufacturing plays the fundamental role in the success of some product brand.

3.3. Role Of Consumers In Success Of Product Brand:

The success of product brand also depends upon the consumers who utilize the product. the product brand is a source of assuring the consistency and quality to the people and mitigates the physical, functional, financial, psychological, social and time related risks and when the individual finds no risk in some product brand, he always prefer it over all other product brands and select the respective brand that satisfies him. The existing product brands also become the source of identifying the new product introduced in the market as well.

3.4. Challenges Product Branding Is Facing:

The current era is considered the era of competition and a single product is being sold with different brand names. So, it has become really difficult for a new brand to establish a strong position in this competitive market. Only products with high quality features can make their position strong in this competitive market and hence this competition is too tough. This competition level is not congested to merely a single region but for the big product, this completion is expanded at global level. The example of two cold drink product brand is best one in this regard. Pepsi and Coke are two most renowned companies and there is a strong competition between both these brands as well.

It is also necessary to produce such kind of product that can meet the needs of the customers. This competition has given birth to novel products and that’s why the customers’ demands have also increased. So, almost all brands are facing severe challenges in this regard.

Now after understanding what the branding, service branding and product branding is, it would be easier to make a complete analysis and comparison of product and service brand regarding the positioning, equity, audit, extension, personality, and identity. This section is basically analysis of the product and service branding and a thorough comparison between both these elements. When a new product or service is promulgated or an existing service or product strives to maintain its current position, it has to focus on certain elements of strategic management that have been promulgated by the strategists. These elements involve brand positioning, brand equity, brand personality, brand image, brand audit, and brand extension to some extent. All these major elements have been discussed along with the comparison of product and service branding and the impact of these elements over both these types.

4.1. Brand Positioning:

Brand positioning is considered as the act of formulating and image of the offer facilitated by the company so that it can achieve a unique position in the consumer’s mind.( Keller, pp.120, 2008). Actually it is an act of hitting the mind of targeted customers so that they become able to ponder upon the specific service or product in an accurate manner. It means brand positioning plays a major role in the success ratio of some specific brand; either the brand is related to the service or product.

The product brand positioning is far easier as compared to the service branding. The reason behind this fact is that there are several marketing strategies that can be adopted to promulgate some specific product brand and once the consumer tastes the flavor of a good product; he builds the trust over it. It means, it never takes long time to build reliability over customer when the question is about quality. The example of Neiva is best one in this regard. For instance, when the consumer utilizes the cosmetic if Neiva and finds it suitable for her/his skin, he/she trusts that respective product and utilizes it now and then.

Comparatively, the service brand takes long time to establish its brand positioning. The product is manufactured using the same ingredients but the matter is really different with the services as when some consumer utilizes the brand services, sometimes, the result appears in hundred percent positive response but sometimes the employers and service providers show lacking in duty that further results in lower brand positioning. The chances of poor service provision are more than poor product provision. So, for service brand, it is really hard to build brand position in the market. It takes long years to formulate reputed position in the market and the example of Google is the best one in this regard as it took long time to make itself trustworthy.

4.2.Brand Equity:

Brand equity is referred as “a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name and symbol, which add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers” (Aaker, 1991, p.15). Keller (1993 p.8) has defined the brand equity by indicating it an experimental learning which is employed to retain and attract customers by a brand. Brand equity includes values, either its intangible or tangible, to the brand product or services.

If the comparison of brand equity is done between service brand and product brand, it would be clear that both these types of branding strive a lot to establish brand equity. For this purpose, different brand equity models are adopted to formulate a well established position in the market ad attract the consumers as well. For establishing product brand equity, it is strongly needed to produce unique products with different kind of changes so that the customer’s loyalty can be achieved. However, it is little bit difficult as for companies as compared to the service providers who, through providing loyal, quick and quality services, can build a strong relation with their respective customers. However, for the success of some brand, it is essential to utilize strategies for establishing brand equity.

4.3. Brand Identity And Personality:

“A brand identity is a set of brand associations that the firm aspires to create and maintain.”(McLoughlin& Aaker, pp.186, 2010). The main aim of strategist is to create a sent for meet the objective suggested for the specific brand. However, there is difference between image and identity as the identity is indicated as the goal proclaimed by the strategist for the brand that is generally formulating the exceptional image of the product in the mind of the consumer.

For the success of some product or service, it is strongly recommended to set this goal so that an identity of the service or product can be made. For instance, EBay provides a quick turnaround for the people who do shopping at that platform and the identity of this platform is established through establishing brand image through brand identity. Similarly, the products of NIKE have their own identity. However, it takes time to meet the suggested goal by the products as compared to the service providers and the reason behind this fact is that the current age is regarded as the age of competition. That’s the reason why the famous but static products are loosing their identity in the market because the novel innovations are replacing them. however, the services are having little less competition comparatively because by bettering and the services and making the service reasonable and cheap, the identity is substantiated in this stream.

4.4. Brand Image:

The brand image is regarded as the current image that is formulated in the minds of the targeted consumers. this image is again made after identifying the product or services. However, it is essential to mention here that the image is formulated with the use of service or product whereas the identity is the set associated with the brand for achieving a specific goal.

Either analysis of image is done from the perspective of product or service, it is essential for both to establish a strong image in the eyes of targeted consumers as without formulating a strong image, the success of the product or service is not possible. The Coca Cola Company established its identity and now the targeted consumers consider it a good and refreshing cold drink . Similarly, the Rolex has given an image of being sexy and appealing look, so this image augments the brand equity as well. As far as the service brand image is concerned, Google has an image of the best search engine in the mind of targeted consumers, so it is utilized to search different thing by different people. This image level can be adopted only be establishing a proper set of strategy by the strategist. The more a plan is authentic, the more a brand gets success.

The image or personality is actually the conferment of the experience of the consumer which he receives after using the service or product brand. Just like human beings, the brand also has its own personality and this personality is the core element that causes its success in values and publicity. This personality provides loyalty of the consumer when the consumer expectations and the performance of the brand is equated. However, the formulation of the service personality is difficult as compared to product personality formation.

4.5. Brand Audit:

The brand audit is regarded as the basal feature of examining the product and service brands to establish brand equity. “A brand audit helps a company understand the health of its brand, identify areas of additional value, and improve brand equity.”( Solomon, Cornell&Nizan, pp.159, 2009).

When the audit of some product is done, the strength of the product, its equity and the improvement ratios is well considered. As compared to product, when the audit of the brand service is done, the health of the service, its fast forwardness, its brand equity, its demand, exploitation and improvement ratio is well pondered. It is considered the best way to know what the consumer think about the product or service. For instance, McDonalds used to do audits to know the needs, trends and aspiration of the people and make changes in their services respectively. This kind of audit is fruitful for both these types of brands as after knowing about the image of some product or service, several steps can be taken to improve the position in the market and beat the competitors. That’s why, McDonalds is considered one of the best fast food restaurant.
Brand extension and its impact on service and product brand:

Brand extension is referred as the extension of some brand beyond a specific but original category.(Lehmann, pp.273,2005). In such cases, when a new product or service takes the aid of some established product or service and treats it as its parent, it is referred as brand extension. Both kind of brand can prove fruitful in this regard.

As far as the brand extension of some product is concerned, it happens when some new product encounters complications in establishing its name and takes the aid of some existing product brand so that it can make an image in the mind of targeted consumers. The example of apple mobiles is best one in this regard in which different kinds of products are introduced keeping in the light of existing products.

Similarly when the service is provided under the name of some renowned company, the results appear in the form of satisfaction of the consumers. for instance, Yahoo gives the services of website hosting under its name, so, most of the people rely on its hosting services only because it has its own image and identity.

When both these services are merged to formulate a complete existence, the result appears in the form of well established image. For instance, if the NIKE products are being sold on the platform like Amazon or EBay, the consumer sale will be high and the value will also be high simultaneously.

5. Recommendation:

The branding has become really difficult now in this competitive age and there are several elements that the company or service providers must have to keep in mind while establishing some product or service. if the product or service is promulgated using some strategic plan, there must be certain plans to cope with certain situations as well. for instance, if there is sudden rush of customers to some service provider brand, there must be substitutive methods to cope with this kind of situation. Similarly, when the product beings to loose its identity in the market, there must be some change in it so that the change can attract not only the existing consumers but also new consumers. Several drinking production companies used to adopt this strategy to maintain their position in the market.

The amalgam of awesome service with a good quality product can bring results in the form of success and strong existence for both. A product can be marketed through the use of some renowned service providing company. This can be referred as the brand extension. However, this is the best source to maintain the doomed position in the market.

To compete with the new upcoming brands, it is essential to keep the technological advancements under consideration. History is evident that many companies loosed their position only because they did not pay attention to the basal technological advances and the result appeared in the form of their vanishing from this stream. So, by adopting novel strategies, the product and service can be bettered.

For both type of brands, the uniqueness is the key of success as the consumer always demands for the unique and catchy product and service. Even if the product or service looses grip over uniqueness, the results appear in the form of severe loss. So, either the case is related to the product or service, the uniqueness is the major element for progress. The examples of big brands are appropriate in this regard. Big competitors Pepsi and Coca-Cola are competing with each other since several decades but what had been making them exceptional from other drinks are their uniqueness and productivity. Similarly, the EBay and Amazon are considered the most trust worthy platforms even if they are competitors but they are having their strong existence only because of their unique and exceptional service. However, all the strategic elements and recommendations are essential for both these types and the improvement in the service and product quality is also considered necessary for building strong brand equity.

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